CIT program coordinator Justin Wise joined Mayor Allison Silberberg, Deputy City Manager Debra Collins, Sheriff Dana Lawhorne, Police Chief Michael Brown, and Liz Wixson of the Department of Community and Human Services (DCHS) in recognizing several public safety honorees as well as the accomplishments of the entire CIT program.
Deputy Terri Reed was named “CIT Deputy of the Year” for her consistent dedication to assisting inmates with acute mental health needs. In one case she took decisive action to protect an inmate when he informed her that he was hearing voices directing him to kill himself. In another Deputy Reed took the time to calm and get to know an inmate who was struggling to adapt to being incarcerated after recently having lost her husband.
Desha Hall-Winstead, who coordinates pre-trial and local probation services, was part of the team to receive the “CIT Intervention of the Year” award for handling a particularly challenging case. Other team members were Michelle Albert, Jail Diversion Team Leader; Police Officer Rachel Shockey; Chief Magistrate Adam Willard; CIT Coordinator Justin Wise; and Lieutenant Ryan Morgan with Fairfax County Police. The team assisted an Alexandria resident get transported from Fairfax back to Alexandria to receive treatment after she overdosed on heroin twice in two days. The team came up with a plan for supervised release into the community despite felony drug charges. To date the individual has successfully completed several short-term programs and is currently living in supported housing while participating in treatment.
Code Inspector Victor Purchase was named “Code Inspector of the Year” for his persistence in engaging an isolated, mentally ill homeowner who was not taking care of his property or himself. Inspector Purchase went so far as to track down the individual’s family in order to get the man the help he needed. It is likely the individual would have died on multiple occasions without Inspector Purchase’s intervention.
Officer Jenifer Ashcroft was named “CIT Officer of the Year” for her intervention with a suicidal juvenile. She was able to calm the juvenile using CIT techniques and learned that in addition to her current suicidal thoughts she had suffered sexual abuse that she had never told anyone about. Officer Ashcroft was able to get the juvenile psychiatrically evaluated and assisted in reporting the sexual abuse.
In addition, Chief Magistrate Adam Willard received special recognition for his efforts to ensure that potential offenders needing mental health services are diverted from jail when appropriate. Michelle Albert and Police Sergeant Dan Schultz were also recognized for their contributions in managing the CIT program over the past two years.
CIT was developed in collaboration with the DCHS, Police Department and Sheriff’s Office to help improve staff interactions with persons with mental illness and substance use disorders. Since the program began in 2010, more than 500 first responders have completed CIT training.
Above: Sheriff Dana Lawhorne, Desha Hall-Winstead of ACJS, Deputy Terri Reed and Mayor Allison Silberberg at the 2017 CIT awards luncheon.